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Locks Restaurant, Portobello. Review by William Barry

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The Grand Canal starts its journey at the Dublin Docklands and traverses the southside of Dublin, marking out the extremities of Ballsbridge, Ranelagh, Rathmines and Harold’s Cross. The canal path is always moving with people walking and exercising and, at this time of year, the piles of crusty brown and gold leaves along this tree-lined section of the waterway look like an autumnal postcard scene.

This stretch is called the Circular Line and has seven different locks but, in truth, it has eight because the very special eighth lock is the recently reopened Locks restaurant, located at 1 Windsor Terrace in Portobello.

Three old friends have joined together to re-open this new restaurant. Conor O'Dowd and Keelan Higgs are proven operators, both men are friends since they worked together in Chapter One eight years ago. O’Dowd has made the jump to chef-owner, having previously been head chef at Dax, whilst Keelan Higgs was head chef in Locks under its last operators and, most recently, was cooking at The Greenhouse. Keelan has also brought his two brothers to work with him. The triumvirate is completed by Etto head chef Paul McNamara.

Locks is my kind of place. It was as if they knew I was coming and wrote the menu just for me. Ales from Eight Degrees Brewing; small bites including beef beignets, these crispy deep fried fritters full of beef cheek that burst with beef fat deliciousness when you bite down into them; homemade mini sourdough bread rolls with house made trout butter from pastry chef André; Liscannor crab; chicken terrine; fluffy gnocchi and, finally, a mighty John Stone chateaubriand beef for two with duck fat chips and crispy onion rings. A pudding of poached pears and a well curated cheeseboard rounded off the night to a belly patting conclusion.

Locks is an example of what energy, ideas and honed professionalism can achieve. There was just seven days between getting the keys to the door and opening night, but the crew put their shoulder to the wheel and got it done. Customers have been drawn to the setting of Locks for many years, now it’s time for the food to shine and keep bringing people back time and again.


Photos courtesy of Locks Restaurant

1 Windsor Terrace, Dublin 8 tel: (01) 416 3655

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